The International Tennis Federation’s Pro Circuit tour has divided the tour into various levels. The lowest echelon is known as the ATP Futures tour. This tour mainly deals with young players planning to make it big in the future. This tour has undergone many changes in the past before getting the name “Futures.”
To make way for the young guns in the sport, there were three circuits introduced in 1976. Players could compete and gain points which were added in the computer rankings. The three circuits were:
– Watch Circuit (USA)
– Southern Circuit (USA)
– European Circuit (France)
These circuits gave a total of US$45000 as prize money.
In 1990, the ITF gained control of the juniors tour and introduced a Satellite Circuit. It comprised of four tournaments and the last tournament was the Satellite Masters tournament. Each of the four tournaments gave away the minimum prize money of $6250. By the end of 1997, there were 109 satellite tournaments which gave away a total sum of a staggering US$3,150,000 as the reward.
Now, while the satellite tournaments were well funded and offering huge prize money, the ITF introduced the Futures tournament in 1998. These tournaments were a week long and there were three consecutive tournaments played. The prize money offered ranged between $10000 – $15000.
Gradually, the satellite tournaments were reduced and Futures tournaments replaced them. The first Futures tournament was played in India. In 2004, there were more than 300 Futures tournaments played worldwide and a majority of them were played on clay. As of 2017, the winner of a futures tournament bags $15000-$25000.
In the women’s circuit a tour at the apprentice level was needed desperately. In 1984, a proposal for such a tour was put forth by the ITF. Later, in 1985, the United States Tennis Association and the European Tennis Association helped the ITF in formulating the rules and regulations for such a tour. Monetary contributions came from the grand slam tournaments. In the second half of 1986, 12 weeks of women’s junior tennis had been launched with a prize money of $60000 to offer. Today each tournament offers minimum $15000 as the prize money.
The draws in Futures tournament are large enough to allow unranked players to gain more ATP points and which help them exceed further in their respective careers.